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Published: September 4th 2012
The volcano started erupting in the end of the 1960-ies and was continuously erupting for more than 40 years until is suddenly stopped little more than a year ago
National parks and zip-lines
This year we went to Central America for vacation. We spent three weeks in Costa Rica and one week in Panama. In this blog entry we are going to write about what we did the first couple of days, days when we mainly lurked around in the areas around La Fortuna and Monteverde in the north of Costa Rica. These days we were three people travelling together for a change, instead of two as we usually are. We were Emma, Ake and Anna who is Emma's sister.
La Fortuna in situated near the active Arenal Volcano
. The volcano started erupting in the end of the 1960-ies and was continuously erupting for more than 40 years until is suddenly stopped little more than a year ago. For many years tours to see the spectacular lava flows down the sides of the volcano were very popular. These had to be cancelled when the volcano went quiet but were soon replaced with other tours. The tour we took had several stops including a walk through a rain forest, visits at one waterfall one viewing point near Arenal Volcano one hot spring and a visit at a frog pond. The
The wildlife in Costa Rica includes humming birds. They are difficult to catch in the wild so here we are cheating. The photo is taken at a feeding station
frog pond and the hot spring were our favorite parts of the tour.
The rain forest walk and the waterfall in a way sums up very much of our entire visit in Costa Rica. We saw other things too, as you will see in this and in later blog entries, but the main attraction in Costa Rica is national parks, waterfalls and rainforests.
After La Fortuna we went to Monteverde, which is another town swarming with tourists. From Monteverde we took more tours. One was a so called hanging bridges tour. In a rain forest not far from town they have erected a series of interconnecting hanging bridges making it possible to view the forest slightly elevated above the ground. This makes perfect sense in a rainforest because much of the life and many of the plants live up in the trees rather than on the ground. On this tour we had a very good guide who told us about the plants, the birds and the animals we saw.
On the tours we took from La Fortuna and Monteverde we saw frogs, monkeys, flowers, birds, butterflies, one snake, several caterpillars and a few other animals. We have
Red-eyed Tree Frog
The wildlife in Costa Rica includes the Red-eyed Tree Frog.
added some pictures to give you an idea.
In the rainforest the soil is thin and nutrients are scarce. Rainforests are close to the equator so there is plenty of sunshine every day but the thickness of the vegetation actually also makes light a precious commodity. So in the rainforest it is a constant struggle to survive both for animals and plants. One tree, the strangling fig
, has developed an interesting strategy of life. It starts its life in the canopy as an epiphyte
. In the canopy there is plenty of light but there is very little water and even less nutrients than on the ground. When the strangling fig has settled in the canopy it sends vines along the stem of the host tree, down to the ground, to get water. Since the strangler fig uses the host tree as a support the stem of the vine can be very thin. When the strangler fig has reached the ground it has an abundance of both water and light. It then starts to send down more vines to the ground. Each vine competes with the host tree for the little nutrients that can be found in the soil. Eventually the strangling
Red-eyed Tree Frog
The frog pond and a hot spring were our favorite parts of the tour
fig surrounds the tree, it actually looks like it is strangling the host tree hence the name, and the host tree begins to die from starvation. It is not a problem for the strangling fig that the host tree dies because it is now strong enough to support itself. When the host tree is dead it decomposes and disappears leaving the fig tree standing. The trunk of the fig tree is hollowed out and sometimes it is large enough that you can go inside it and even climb in it.
When we were in Monteverde we also took a so called canopy tour, or as we prefer to call it, a zip-line
tour. The zip-lines are steel wires between trees and on the tour you simply slide along the wires from one tree to another. Some of the wires are several hundred meters long and, when the wires cross over a ravine or a canyon, it can be more than one hundred meters down to the ground. This tour had one purpopse only, to give the participants a thrill. It has nothing at all to do with sightseeing.
The zip-line tour was absolutely great and we loved it. We
The wildlife in Costa Rica includes snakes
have added four different short videos to give you an idea of what it looks like. On the third you see the so called Superman. It is 750 meters long and you can, if you dare, slide face down arms out just like Superman flies. Look at the film and you will see what we mean by that. If you would like to get a feel of what it is like to ride the Superman you can watch the fourth film.
Finally we would like to mention a tour we took that was a disappointment – a tour to a coffee plantation. We drink a lot of coffee and therefore we thought it could be fun to visit a farm where the beans to our beloved brown drink is grown. The tour was a fiasco. The guide was trying to be entertaining but the jokes were not funny and more than once they were also rude and inappropriate. But as a coffee lover we have now done our duty and visited the origin of the precious drink we have on average three times a day.
This is all we had to say for now. We hope you enjoyed
The wildlife in Costa Rica includes flowers.
it. There will be more photos and stories from Costa Rica in the next blog entry
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